In a bit of a funk.

Don't really know what's wrong with me, but I'm feeling in a bit of a funk. Not really in the mood to go too far back this Way Back Wednesday, so I'll just go back to 2006. That was so early in my quilting adventure and I was just on the cusp of really getting it.

This is the quilt I think of as my "spring" quilt. Actually, I think I should make another "spring" quilt because I really don't like this one. It's like green eggs and ham...Do you like my hat? No, I do not like my quilt. But, it's a first in so many ways.

It's the first BOM I ever did. It's the first (and only) quilt I've ever made (or will ever make) where all the pieces are made from the same blender print, just in different colors. It was my first experience being a regular shopper in a specialty quilt store. It was my first truly successful free motion quilting. And, it's where I learned about quilting perseverence...never let a quilt beat you, no matter how ugly you think it is. And, it was the first time my work was displayed in public.

In 2006, I was still having trouble going into fabric stores and had never been to a quilt store before. Everything came from JoAnn's or Hancock Fabrics. Even in those stores, there was a lot of staring at me and women cutting in line in front of me because they thought I was just there holding stuff for a wife. I don't know if I'd have even gotten into quilting if women at the pattern book table hadn't made me feel so uncomfortable, staring and moving away so that they could make sure our shoulders wouldn't touch. Add to that my natural insecurity and a shyness I cannot overcome and the fabric stores were a pretty bad experience for me.

But, I needed a foot and a quilting friend I had made at JoAnn's sent me to the quilt store for it. They had it and they were offering a quilt class. I wanted to go, but it was during the day and I knew I couldn't take off Wednesdays from 9-1 for 10 weeks or whatever it was. But, they offered me this BOM they were holding for 2007. I paid $5 to get in and every month I brought the finished block back, I got a new block for free and a 25% discount on anything in the store.

Okay, so don't let anyone fool you. There's no such thing as a $5 quilt. We didn't have a kid. I had the money and I got a stash out of it. Not just a stash of fabric, but also of threads. And, out of the 20 or so of us that brought our blocks back month after month, I was one of the few that actually finished the quilt. Even the designer never finished hers. And, you can see why. There's no contrast and they used all the colors they had in stock in the quilt, so there was nothing to use for set in triangles or sashing that didn't disappear into some part of a block. Because all the blocks were one print, I decided all the finishing fabrics had to be that print, too. So, the finishing and backing cost me about $65 and then there was the batt and the invisible thread and the hours and hours of quilting and this little quilt turned out to be quite expensive. In business, we call that hidden cost. And, because I was one of the few that finished, it got hung in the store for a month. My only displayed work.

Every year, I pull it out and hang it up, just for the short Texas spring. Then, I'll take it down and replace it with one of my more summery quilts.

So, what about the quilt designer? She still works in the store a couple days a week. I've followed her BOM two additional years and have two additional ugly quilts. This year, I decided not to participate. I didn't even finish the one for last year yet. I'll get to it. Just not today.

In case you hadn't figured it out yet, I got over my fear of fabric stores. I took a class, I studied and I learned and now I'm a pretty good quilter. I think of myself at the advanced level when picking patterns. I do pretty good with color selection.

But, mostly, I'm not afraid of quilting. Sometimes it scares me to walk out my front door. Sometimes it scares me to try something new. Sometimes it scares me to say what I feel or what I think. But it never scares me to pull down a new pattern and select fabrics and make a beautiful quilt. And, it doesn't scare me to change my mind half way and pull out a week's worth of work and do it over again or pull a block off the design wall and make a new one.

If you're afraid to try free motion quilting, or afraid to use orange, or afraid to buy a yard of that beautiful fabric just because you don't have a project for it yet, as Cher said in Moonstruck, "Snap out of it!" It's only quilting. Even if you don't like it, you can find a purpose for it. You can hang it once a year to help you remember who you were when you made it. You can give it to a charity. You can give it to someone you don't like.

And, some people can just leave it unfinished. I think those are the bravest quilters of all. Sometimes I wish I was one.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. Next week is spring break and we're planning what we're going to do. I hope to quilt. But, I think Miss Sydney wants to do something. We'll see who gets the best of whatever compromise we end up with.



Tammy said...

Good morning Lane,
I love your blog posts like this one, you are so honest and vulnerable. When I read them I see a man who has risen far above adversity and come out smelling like a rose! Well done. The quilts you make now are fabulous. I hope you pass your skill on to Sydney. I must concur the first BOM you ever did is pretty ugly.

Have a super duper Wednesday.

Coloradolady said...

Well, once again Lane, you have inspired me....and I am not sure in a good way!! I think you remember my quilt top I started out of mens shirts. Well, I have put it aside and have not picked it up again. I know (after) most of the top is sewn together, that I should have done it differently....and I HATE the thought of ripping all of that work out....makes me sweaty just thinking about it....but I think in order for me to finish, that is what I must do....uhhhhh how in the world do you stand that???? All of that work - ripped out???? See....it gives me a headache just thinking about it...thus....it sits in a bin unfinished....why don't we see the big picture before it is stitched together??

Oh, well....maybe you have talked me into it today!!! Have a great spring break...wish you were coming up this way....we'd storm the quilt shops up here and have a blast...no worries at all!!!!!

Shirley said...

An early quilt can look horrible to us simply because we really aren't sure what we're doing or what we like when we first start out. But it teaches us what our taste isn't. I had one like that. I donated it too cause my blocks weren't square and a large amount of the fabric looked like couch upholstery. Not that anyone would notice aside from me. So I'm sure it found a home somewhere, even if it's the lining bottom of a dog bed. Dogs deserve comfort too and they are non-judgemental, not to mention colour blind *LOL* I'm sure if you think about it you did learn some things making it.. practice doing 1/4" seams, free motion, etc. Everything has a purpose.

Society is cruel. If you saw a woman standing in an autoparts store with a fan belt would anyone think she's holding it for her husband? Why is it assumed a man in quilt shop is any different. Gets my dander up. I don't take classes anymore but I've been in quite a few that had men in them for whatever reason. One time it was a man who fixes sewing machines and he just wanted to learn about what and how the women used their machines. One of our best teachers was Gay. He was an awesome quilter.

lw said...


This is the type of post that makes me hope you'll write a book one day.

I don't think the BOM quilt is ugly as much as low contrast. You'd have to decorate a room to make it "fit" since it doesn't stand on its own artistically.

My first quilts were given to the first person who said they really like them-- and they were used and used and worn out. I just finished a practice quilt I bought at a sale at Luella's quilt basket pieced, pinned and ready to machine quilt. It used colors I would never pick-- moss green, turquoise, purple, burgundy and gold (stack and slash stars.) When I was sewing the binding on, along came a friend who loves the colors-- and now it's on her sofa in Washington DC.

CC said...

I wish I could tell you how much you inspire me,and what great talent as a writer I think you have. You have such a way with words... to let us come close to you,understand and begin to truly care about you as a friend. I love your posts,and love reading them..and I love your quilts. They're quite wonderful..I think you must be quite wonderful as well. Happy quilting..

JKP said...

I truly enjoy your sense of perseverence, dedication, and your ability to face your fears and be you.

I also like the quilt. There is something within me to which it appeals. Maybe it's the way the blocks blend together into each other, hiding out, but still wanting to be noticed. I know a lot of people who are like that (uh...me). Maybe that's why I like it.

vivian said...

You did good-you finished it!! I was in the LQS today picking up a quilt from a customer who had brought her husband along. He knew more about the quilt and what would look good on it than her-I had a fleeting thought that he had pieced it but didn't want to put him (or her)on the spot! I quilt for several men quilters-they usually have very definite ideas on how they want it quilted. I like that-it makes my job easier!
Oh-about the funk-I think it's going around-I've been in a funk for 2 months!

Shay said...

This post has deeply touched all of the people who have commented before me, and probably many more who didnt comment.

The singular most powerful piece of advice I will take away is contained in these words

"It's only quilting. Even if you don't like it, you can find a purpose for it. You can hang it once a year to help you remember who you were when you made it".

I've only been quilting for a short time compared to others and I am often very critical of my own work. Plus I am a Virgo. We LOVE perfect.

Thank you for reminding me that quilting is an evolutionary process and while I might not ever reach show quilt standard that I need to take risks and experiment to become a "better" and more daring quilter.

I love the thought of guys who quilt. If I saw you standing in a quilt store, I'd be the one who sidled up to you to pick your brains for great ideas. Pkus I'll strike up a chat with just about anyone.

Oh and one more thing, I never thought of you as shy. You writing is confident and open, why is why I keep comng back to read your blog!

Thanks for inspiring me to be daring.